The Berlinale Forum takes place for the 50th time in 2020. In collaboration with Forum Expanded, the section will be presenting the films shown in the year it was founded to celebrate this anniversary. Bringing the 1971 programme back to the big screen offers a way of examining an era as eventful in society as it was in culture. The relationship between the films, their historical context, and our own present day will form the subject of a day of panel discussions on February 27, 2020.
When Ulrich and Erika Gregor and their colleagues founded the International Forum of New Cinema, they had a clear eye for the many radical innovations in cinema, the turbulent socio-political situation and the need to keep film history alive. Films made in countries yet to appear on the world map of cinema celebrated their premieres here, as did formalist adventures and non-narrative experiments. Film classics known the world over already formed part of the festival together with works that would later attain the same status. They also showed numerous films of an overtly political nature that were suffused with the countercultural zeitgeist. Today, numerous films originally shown at the Forum form the centerpiece of Arsenal – Institute for Film and Video Art’s archive of independent and radical films, which is the only collection of its kind in the world.
In 2020, Berlinale Forum and Forum Expanded will replay the section’s entire 1971 edition. 21 programmes will be shown during the festival, with the remaining 22 to be presented at Arsenal once the festival is over. The central questions here are: What is the legacy of the Forum’s first year and what significance does this legacy have today? How has the Forum developed over time and what has become of the concept of counter-culture that was of such decisive importance in 1971? At the screenings and a day of panel discussions on February 27, 2020, audiences will have the opportunity to discuss these questions in depth with filmmakers, scholars and artists.
Soviet cinema classics such as Alexandr Medvedkin’s Schastye (Happiness) form part of the anniversary programme, as do key feminist works (The Woman’s Film by the Newsreel Group). Documentaries about the American civil rights movement (The Murder of Fred Hampton by Howard Alk) equally screen alongside unsettlingly radical features, such as Ostia by Sergio Citti or Gishiki (The Ceremony) by Nagisa Ōshima.